Metapost: An Open Question

Ramblites, I don't really know what to do right now, and maybe you can help me.

I started this site with every intention of talking about social issues via mainstream literature. My very first Twilight post -- the announcement one -- stated that my purpose wasn't about AUTHOR BAD or about FANBASE BAD but rather about looking at popular things in a new light and to see how they influence our thoughts and society around us. I have always been about "cheerfully reading too much into things" -- looking extra close and super hard at books and seeing the Fed Ex arrows there, but without blame on anyone. Not the authors. Not the fans. Cheerful. Happy. Fluffy bunnies.

I have tried, gods know I have tried, to never deviate from that message. I have stated practically once per post that "to each hir own" and that everyone can like their own thing without censure. I have written a whole post about this philosophy just to be clear. I have spent literally hours of my life tweaking posts that were largely "good enough" so that they will be absolutely perfect; agonizing over adding "could"s and "can"s and "in my opinion"s to make it absolutely, totally clear that I'm not trying to universalize my opinions and experiences.

And it's not working.

Oh, nobody -- astonishingly -- has gotten particularly hurt or angry over Twilight. This actually does surprise me; I thought for sure we'd get a swarm of angry Twilight fans at some point explaining why Edward is the dreamiest dreamboat ever. But I cannot talk about Narnia without someone telling me that I'm not respecting the author because of his cultural upbringing or that I'm making too much of an obvious fairytale or that I'm forgetting to factor in obscure religious beliefs. And I cannot make a point about life debts in literature ranging from Game of Thrones to Star Wars without feeling like I'm being accused of making people feel bad for liking what they like.

And all this when I'm not trying to criticize these books! I'm trying to talk about society through the books! The books are not on trial here! Society is the point of the discussion; the books are basically the flannel-graph that I use to make my points about society!

But no matter how hard I try to keep every post neutral and calm and thoughtful and "in my humble opinion only", I feel like I make one more person angry or sad or alienated every time I post, and I feel like I lose one more commenter, and I feel like I'm a shit human being at least once per piece.

And I don't know what to do about this.

I've tried tweaking the commenting rules to point out that I'm just one person, doing my best, and can everyone please be really nice and spend time thinking over their comment before posting and how it's going to sound to the person reading it on the other end. I've tried pointing out -- and gods do I feel like a whiner for doing so -- that I'm one person, undergoing major surgery, while my father has cancer, and I'm on a caseload of narcotics, and that it's really demoralizing spending 4+ hours writing a post only to have the whole thing eventually derail into how I'm a terrible person because I didn't take into consideration the fact that the author of whatever piece I'm dealing with had hir puppy die when zie was three and I've got to make allowances for that and therefore I'm not allowed to use their literature in order to point out modern social racism, sexism, ableism, whatever. Or that using said literature to point out same is hurtful to the readers here because it was their favorite book ever growing up and now I've made them feel bad for liking something that I used on the flannel-graph.

And there comes a point where I don't know what to do, or how to keep doing this. I don't know how to continue or start any discussion more controversial than Twilight, which is apparently either universally hated or has really laid-back fans. I cannot do a Song of Ice and Fire deconstruction, even though Husband would like me to, because I cannot handle years and years of people being hurt at me because of something someone else said to them about being a Martin fan. I am struggling to stick with the Narnia deconstruction, as much as I love it, because it feels like the last several posts have been long fights about what is and isn't fair game to analyze when it comes to Stuff Written By English Writers In The 1950s. I dare not do a Lord of the Rings deconstruction for similar reasons, even though I think there's a tremendous amount there to be said about race; I don't feel safe saying it. Because I know -- I know -- I'm going to hurt someone's feelings saying it and then I'm going to feel bad. Because that's what I do.

Tonight I hit complete full-throttle anxiety attack breakdown. I spent all day struggling to write a Twilight post while on heavy narcotics because otherwise there won't be one on 7/7/2012 and I will consider myself a personal failure. I've spent the last five months devoting every waking, non-working moment I have to being on the blog trying to keep up with my posting schedule, and I have spent that time feeling constantly behind schedule. I've given up casual reading, hobbyist reviewing, and professional writing to look after this blog and soothe everyone's feelings and get the posts out the door on time. And then I came home from a night out at On The Border -- a night out in incredible searing pain but I'll be damned if I'm going to be confined to the house forever, and I also have to deal with the fact that Husband is going out of town for FOUR DAYS next week and we literally do not know how I will get out of bed in the morning or feed myself while he is gone but he has to for work reason -- and I come home and there is a Bucket O' Hurt in my inbox.

And EVERY TIME someone posts a Bucket O' Hurt comment on my blog about how someone once yelled at them (except not really!) but that I remind them of the kind of person who COULD yell at them, that takes me at least -- at least -- an hour to politely respond, to apologize, and to nudge everyone back into safe space guidelines because it's pretty much impossible to spill a Bucket O' Hurt without spilling triggers all over the place too.

I don't know how to keep up with this. I don't know whether to recruit Shakesville-esque moderators, which I would hate because I would be inconveniencing others. I don't know whether to do a full Fred Clark-style withdrawal from the comments, which I would hate because then I lose the social interaction. I don't know whether to do a total Kate Harding-style shutdown-hiatus-archive and just embrace the burnout, which I would hate because I like blogging. I don't know whether to institute a Don't Fucking Get On My Tits comment policy and then whittle everyone down to a board of three commenters and maybe a dozen lurkers. I don't know whether to chuck the goddamn Tuesdays-Narnia-Thursdays-Random-Saturdays-Twilight schedule and just publish whatever I can whenever I can and deal with stuff when I have the spoons.

None of those options seem appealing to me.

And frankly I don't know what ya'll want either. I need you to tell me. For instance, I just wrote this today:

But since this is going to be kind of a "filler" day, it's as good a day to ask as any: How are you guys feeling about the Twilight deconstruction? We've been at this for well over a year now and we're averaging about two months per chapter, partly because I'm analyzing on such a microcosmic, line-by-line level. We're about to finish Chapter 9 in a book with 24 chapters; this means that we'll be done with this one book -- Twilight -- in approximately 2015. That seems kind of longish.

One possibility is to keep plowing forward at that snail's pace, but I'm not sure I have that level of endurance and to be quite frank, the comment numbers on the Twilight posts have been slipping, which tells me that you all aren't having as much fun anymore either. And I'm really not kidding when I say that it's the commenting that keeps me doing these deconstructions -- I'm here for the conversation and to know I'm entertaining and enriching people, not to metaphorically shout on the street corner that is the internet while people edge by and try not to make eye contact.

Another possibility is to ramp up the speed a little; it might not be possible to do one chapter a week, like with Narnia, but maybe we can cover one chapter in two weeks. The upside to this is that the material stays fresh, we keep moving at a good pace, and we might actually get to one of the other books in the series someday. The downside to this is that we're going to miss some stuff because I can't cover everything in the gargantuan posts, but ideally the stuff we miss will be little stuff. (Or you guys can help in the comments!)

The other downside to this compression is that (a) I come off as more negative overall (see: Narnia) since I don't have Nice Filler Days, and (b) the material takes me longer to write when it's covering a whole chapter of Fail rather than a few pages of Fail. Still, I think that would be better than handling Chapter 24 in 2015. But I need you guys to tell me what you think in the comments. (For all I know, you're all sick of Twilight and you want me to do something else. I won't know unless you tell me.)

Anyway, we'll go through this post as usual, and then I'll go see if I can't go do Chapter 10 in 1-2 posts as a comparison point (and since I pretty much have to pre-post all my material), and by THEN this post will have gone live and I can see what you all are thinking.

I'm losing commenters over this blog every time I talk about something other than Twilight. I'm losing online friends over it. I'm losing people because no matter how I try, I don't express my opinions carefully enough to not cause hurt and anger and pain. And that makes me feel like a colossal failure.

You tell me what you think I should do. Because I honestly don't know anymore and I'm at my wits' end. Do you want me to keep doing this or do you want me to quit? Do you want me to just stick to Twilight and leave everything else alone? Do you want me to just stay out or the comments and not read or respond to them? Honestly, openly, what do you want? I need to know. Because what I'm doing now... it's just not working and I've spent the last hour sobbing while writing this, which is not a good sign.


Ana Mardoll said...

ETA: And if you're a lurker and you have an opinion on this, for gods' sake, please express it. Because I need to know from everyone, not just the regular commenters.

Laiima said...

Hi Ana, this is the first post of yours I've read in a few days (taking a break from online - nothing to do with you!), so I have not yet waded into the Bucket O'Hurt, wherever it may be.

For me, personally, I'd like you to write about whatever you want to. Your writing is so thoughtful and interesting that you've got me riveted over Game of Thrones, when I haven't seen the TV series, nor read the books (and I won't be doing either because they're too violent). I'm getting a lot out of the Twilight deconstruction as well, despite having only read a few pages of the first book, and not having seen any of the movies. And I love the Narnia stuff! I did read, and love, TLTWATW as a kid, and a few of the other books, but definitely not all of them.

Um, whoever is dumping on you needs to get over themselves, stat. But maybe you could try to care less? (Not something I've personally managed all that well, but conversations don't break out on my blog either.)

Hugs. Take care of yourself first.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

I don't know whether to chuck the goddamn Tuesdays-Narnia-Thursdays-Random-Saturdays-Twilight schedule and just publish whatever I can whenever I can and deal with stuff when I have the spoons.

Your posts are top quality, and it's them I'm here for. So if I were to express an opinion, I'd be inclined to go for this option. I don't want to see you stress yourself more than you are already.

And I'd love to see you pull apart Lord of the Rings, because that's a work I'm familiar with and love. So it would be a new experience for me. (I'm honestly not sure what I think of Narnia, but I'm not feeling defensive when you analyse it.)


Launcifer said...

I'd personally suggest mothballing the lot for a few weeks at least, myself. Admittedly, that's not so much in answer to your question as it is a response to a couple of the points your raise in the post.

At the end of the day, you've recently had major surgery (the posts on your medical experiences were extremely informative, btw) and if any other aspects of your life are causing problems - like the anxiety you mention when it comes to posting - then they probably need to take a back seat to the business of getting over the initial post-surgery bump and start on recovering from the ordeal of surgery. Your health really needs to come first and if posting here is leaving you anxious and in tears, then it might be an idea to step away from the programme for a bit, maybe write more general posts if you feel up to it but, ultimately, you concentrate on getting well. The break might do you good and, certainly, you'll be in a better frame of mind to tackle the problem later on, when you're not on the post-op medication and the like.

I may well have thoughts on the what tomorrow (later on, for me) but, alas, I probably need to get some sleep and allow those thoughts to percolate for a while. In the meantime, I'm sorry to hear that posting here is such an ordeal and the moment and I hope I didn't come off as patronising up above.

I'll send some happy thoughts your way, if you don't mind ;).

thepsychobabble said...

This is a hard one, because, of course, no one can tell you what's best for you, except you.
But, since you asked for opinions, I'll do my best to give you the short version of mine.

You can't make everyone happy. No matter how my-opinion-only and carefully-crafted-to-be-non-hurtful your words are (and just FYI I think you do a WONDERFUL job at that.) someone, somewhere, will be hurt/offended/angered at some point.
My other personal thought is that you do your best (which, I really think you do your very best, and it seems like you go more than one extra mile to create that safe place) to have a safe place here, but it is the internet and sometimes the nasties find their way in. (albeit, sometimes unintentionally)
You cannot protect All the People from All the Things, at least not All of the Time. And it is unfair to expect any one being to do that.

TheDarkArtist said...

I, for one, absolutely love all of your deconstructions. Heck, I just like reading what you have to say about culture in general. Honestly, I started rereading the Narnia series again because of your deconstructions, and I didn't find that it hurt my ability to enjoy those books the same way that i did when I was just a wee lad.

As for not taking C.S. Lewis's cultural background into consideration, I don't think that's true. The fact of the matter is that his generation had a view of race and governance that conflicts deeply with modern liberal attitudes towards those very things; attitudes that you and I and many (probably most?) readers of this blog share.

Respect yourself and your own life, though. If what happens online affects your real life, then it's totally reasonable to change the situation. I'll miss your Narnia posts if you decide to stop them, but that's your choice. Only so many spoons in a day, as you know much, much better than I.

Emmy said...


I don't think you owe it to us to continue this--whether that's posting in general or on a specific schedule--over your own health and well-being. We're not that important, and also I like you and I would rather you were not feeling bad about your posts.

I think Narnia is hard because so many people have really strong childhood memories of it, and it can be hard to read posts with favorite childhood authors getting called out for their fail. Not to mention, I suppose, that Narnia can be read on a lot of different genre levels (fairy tale, kids' story, fantasy story, religious story, etc.), and those levels all have different expectations and whichever one you pick, someone can come in and say "But you don't understand this works on X level!" Which doesn't, obviously, excuse people from being jerks in comments, but aside from only letting pre-approved people comment I'm not sure how that can be fixed. I suspect you get so much less pushback on Twilight because everyone who reads your blog already agrees that it's problematic, much like Left Behind.

I have seen a lot of negative pushback from other bloggers writing about ASOIAF. I have liked your posts about it, but then again I already thought ASOIAF was problematic in a lot of ways and also not The Best Fantasy Everrrr.

I don't know what solutions to suggest that you haven't already thought of, but I enjoy your posts even when they bug me! And to some extent, idk, I feel like everyone just sort of has to accept that if you are going to write (or read) criticism of something you like, it may make people sad. I was extremely unhappy when I reread Bedknob and Broomstick, a childhood favorite, and realized it was actually super racist. But that doesn't mean that it isn't, or that someone shouldn't have been able to point it out.

So...yeah. I do like your posts quite a lot, even though I only lurk. :)

cjmr said...

Scrap the schedule and write when you have the spoons for it. Your recovery is way more important than our reading pleasure.

Oglesby said...

A lurker here, who loves your deconstruction posts. All of them.

Hard to know what else to say; I find them reasoned and insightful. Disagreements are even easy to handle, as you seem to be clear about your uncertainties and are willing to consider you may be wrong (a delightful and regrettably rare quality).

I'd hope you keep up the posts as much as your health and circumstances allow, though you may want to consider dropping something here if it's cutting into your other pleasures or distressing you overmuch. I'd cope. Probably. :)

Best wishes for a full recovery, or as close as you can come.

Yamikuronue said...

I don't comment often, but I really love jut about everything you write. I forward posts around, because you have a way of taking things I think about and explaining them much more eloquently. I'm loving the Narnia series, despite being a fan of the books, because I love having the chance to think about them in a different way.

I didn't really expect you to keep up posting while you're recovering from surgery, though, and I suggest if you're having trouble, go ahead and take some time off. Your health -- mental AND physical -- comes first. Nobody will suffer for lack of deconstruction posts, you know?

unbeliever536 said...

As one of those people who kinda likes ASOIAF despite everything that's wrong with it, I just want to say that I am not, not, not hurt by Internet Folks saying critical things about things that I like (I like to talk about what I like! I don't care how!), but I totally understand where you're coming from with the whole discomfort-about-maybe-hurting-people. As for what to do about it... if you feel you have to discontinue Narnia posts (I hope not, those are great. So is everything else.) maybe you could try deconstructing something you think mostly positively about? I don't know what that would be, but people might not feel so bad if you come at whatever-it-is from "I like this but..." rather than "I want to like this but..."

Thoughts on Twilight vs Narnia:
Twilight was super popular (popular enough to generate a fairly profitable movie series and a lot of buzz), but I think most of the people who were initially in love with the books either got over it or calmed down somewhat once they stopped being new. Narnia, though, has been accorded the status of Great Literature*. Twilight fans, I think, are either not fans now or feel that they don't have much to defend. People who like Narnia** may feel a greater desire to defend it against anything that seems remotely like an attack, no matter what the tone is. And anything critical that doesn't first refer to C S Lewis as a brilliant and insightful giant of modern fantasy will seem like an attack to some folks. So maybe you could try something that is/was popular in its time, but isn't thought of as a Great Work.

*LotR has a similar status, and so probably wouldn't be a good choice for a replacement. ASOIAF seems to have some currency, at least among its more extreme partisans, as Great Modern Fantasy (after all, look at that bodycount. Must be a very serious and mature work.), which is nearly equal to Great Literature.

**"Twilight fans" and "people who like Narnia" are the two phrases that made sense in my head to describe the relevant groups, but look at how that automatic different phrasing shows the difference in the works' relative status.

Durazno said...

Here's a random lurker piping up. This post got a little wordier than I planned, but the meat of it is that your blog is fantastic and I greatly enjoy your work even when you happen to turn your attention to books and shows I like. I hope you can keep doing it, but if you need to take steps to make it easier on you, please, please do. Frankly, I'm amazed by the schedule you keep. You're giving us all kinds of interesting content and enjoyable company for free, and I don't think anyone has a right to expect you to destroy yourself to do it. (I suppose that's not too helpful in terms of practical suggestions, but I hope the sentiment helps?)

One reader's experience: sometimes a post will make me wince or give me pause, but you are not lashing out and hurting me. Your articles often point out blindspots that I have and expose me to perspectives that I'd never considered before, and that can be uncomfortable, but it's discomfort that needs to happen, and I'm glad that I'm getting it now, here, sitting in front of my computer instead of by realizing that I've made an asshole of myself some point down the line, you know? That still happens now and again, of course, but this blog and others like it have been very helpful.

I think that speeding up the Twilight commentary might be a good idea. You have an awesome bunch of commenters, and if you invite them to point out issues and ideas from the chapters that you weren't able to cover in the article, I'll bet they'd come through for you. (I was about to add "why not let us do some of the work?" but then I remembered that I was a lurker and that would amount to offering up other peoples' services. I think it's a fair thing for you to ask for, anyway.)

One last note: I especially liked "When We Like Problematic Art." I've been showing it to everyone around here because my friends sometimes tease each other about the problematic elements in the entertainment the others enjoy, and I think it was setting a few of us on edge, including me, if I'm honest. (Sociology majors - you know how it is.) Your post really helps put everything in perspective, especially the "but- but- but-!" reaction that can bubble up in one's chest when we see the uglier aspects of society pointed out in works we like. I wish I'd read something like it ten years ago.

Silver Adept said...

If things get to the point where posting becomes a source of stress, rather than a relief of stress, then the postings can stop until morale improves. Plus, you're dealing with enough stress right now - I don't think anyone would grudge you anything if you said "the posts I have already stored up will continue, after that, I'm on hiatus until things calm down. You'll have weekly open threads if you need community."

It may also be a nice break if you're willing to let us put up some guest posts while you get de-stressed. Not to volunteer anyone, but I'm pretty sure there are some Ramblites who are or know people like the Slacktiverse TBAT who know how to ride herd.

Priority one, however, is you staying healthy and recovering from your surgery. After that, if there's anything left, we'll love to hear from you. If nothing is left, then we wait.

muscipula said...

I for one always look forward to reading this blog. It's thought-provoking and entertaining! I also really feel that the perspective of the deconstructions, and the close reading, has helped me personally to examine problematic areas in my own life. It sucks that there are people out there who can have such a negative reaction and cause so much disruption, effort and pain in doing so. I'm usually one of life's lurkers but I will try to engage more in the comments from now on. I'm sure there are plenty of others like me who appreciate what you do.

Ana Mardoll said...


Those of you who read my medical history post may recall that my doctors have a history of accusing me of being psychosomatically sick -- i.e., of taking on symptoms because I know I "should" have them. Because of that, Mom has been the family "keeper of the side-effects" information since I was 16 -- she reads the drug side-effects and keeps the information from me until I exhibit symptoms, so then I can "prove" I'm not making stuff up.

I just got off the phone with Mom. Apparently at least HALF of the eight drugs I've been taking are powerful depressants and it's some kind of miracle that I haven't broken down crying more than twice in the past three+ weeks. So it's entirely possible this is a drug-induced false alarm.

I'm going to sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning. Please keep posting, though, if you have an opinion on the subject. Thank you (SO MUCH) to everyone who already has.

ZMiles said...

I enjoy all your deconstruction posts, and I would love to read ASOIAF ones. Or, for that matter, Hunger Games or Star Wars ones. As someone who saw all the movies and read through a huge portion of the EU (all the Bantam books! New Jedi Order! Young Jedi Knights! It took the Dark Nest trilogy to make me give up), I'd be very interested in seeing your opinions on them.

(I've read Narnia, haven't read Twilight, and am enjoying your posts on both, so it doesn't really matter to me if I've already read the book before I read your deconstruction).

I might not be the right audience to answer this question; I can't think of any books that I would be vehemently defensive about (there's certainly books I like, such as Dresden Files, Kitty Norville series, or Lone Wolf and Cub, but I'm not immune to the flaws or problematic bits in those works).

Brin Bellway said...

What surprises me is that you're not already on break. I would most definitely understand if you need to cut back or stop entirely for a while.

The faster-paced Twilight certainly seems worth a try. If we're going to be encouraged to point out additional things in the comments, I might finally get around to getting my mom's copy of Twilight out and reading along.

depizan said...

I enjoy your deconstructions and posts and commentary and all of that. I'd love to know what you'd have to say about the Lord of the Rings and racism (I have some guesses because there's some hella problematic stuff there) even though I like the Lord of the Rings. I'm happy to join the conversation when Star Wars or something else I like and know well comes up. (I don't always comment on Twilight stuff since my reaction was mostly "blech.")

But your mental and physical health is a whole lot more important than my entertainment!

If you need to take a break, then you should take a break. If you need to blog about fun stuff for a bit (all of the social interaction, less of the stress), then go for it. Take care of you.

I would be sad if you stopped blogging and commenting permanently though, since I very much enjoy your virtual company. But, again, your health trumps all.

*offers hugs*

For what it's worth, you've never made me feel bad for liking the problematic things I like.

Kaoru Negisa said...

I've been lurking now for a couple of weeks on the recommendation of a friend and love everything I've read. I even surprised my friends the other night when they asked what I was reading and I told them a deconstruction of Twilight, though I have loved the Narnia ones as well. You're helping me look at other texts with a more critical eye and getting more out of them as a result.

GemmaM said...

Delurking to say:

Deconstructions -- yay! Don't much care how you do it or what you do it to (unless it's a book I haven't read but want to read, I can be amused by your deconstructions of just about anything).

Also, so sorry your life is hard right now, take time off to get well if that will help.

Silverbow said...

I haven't been commenting on your site for very long, but I've been lurking a long time. And in my personal opinion, I think you should KEEP DECONNING ALL THE THINGS.

I haven't read Twilight but I love your deliciously snarky intelligent posts about it, so I definitely would be sorry to see those go. I have read all the Narnia books several times and I used to like them a lot when I was younger. As I grew older, I still liked the series, but I noticed that something about them was bothering me and I couldn't quite put a finger on what it was. Your posts are helping me sort that out, and for that I have to thank you. I still like Narnia, but I find that understanding the complex issues behind the narrative is a much richer experience.

Some people don't like deconstructions and "picking books apart" because they start to get uncomfortable when they realize that their most favourite amazing awesomest book ever isn't quite as amazing or awesome as they thought. And that really bothers them -- to realize that they might have been mistaken or naive about something that gave them so much innocent enjoyment.

I think that you're getting more upset remarks over Narnia than Twilight because most people discovered Narnia as a child, when they were too young and inexperienced to see some of the problems inherent in the text. And Narnia has a wonderful sort of innocent aura to it, despite all its problems. Kids respond to it with a sense of delight, and adults look back on that warm cozy feeling with considerable nostalgia. So in their memory, Narnia is all shiny and rainbowy and wonderously dreamlike. To deconstruct Narnia feels like you're tarnishing that cozy nostalgic dream with cold hard facts -- and some people really don't like their dreams exposed to the light of day, especially if it's something they've held onto since childhood. That's not a good feeling.

However... other people (like me) have never been very sentimental or nostalgic, and tend to distrust such feelings because we've learned they can hide some Pretty Serious Issues. Personally, I think it's more valuable to see what's actually there, and discuss it frankly, rather than try to protect a nebulous feeling of cozy innocence.

My guess is that you're not getting the same type of remarks over Twilight because Twilight is not a children's book. Also, Twilight is certainly not innocent. Bella's inner voice alone is not that of an innocent naive child, it's one of depression and disillusionment, and that's the filter through which the reader experiences the story. It's very much a coming-of-age type of book, and as such, the narrative is about discovering dark secrets and how to best incorporate that into one's experience. (That the answer is "marry a totally dreamy vampire and become a vampire yourself" is pretty laughable, but my point stands.)

The average reader comes out of Narnia with a sense of innocent wonderment and delight -- even more so if they were a child when they first read it. The average reader comes out of Twilight with (I'm guessing) a kind of smug self-satisfaction. Twilight readers are usually not children, either.

So deconning Twilight just brings a different kind of smug satisfaction, while deconning Narnia can seem like a violation of innocence. Twilight is very much low-hanging fruit, while Narnia is frequently put on a pedestal.

However, it's because of this that I think the more valuable decon, on the whole, is Narnia.

(But I love both, so please don't stop doing either!)

CleverNamePending said...

I want to just mention that I almost ALWAYS stay out of comment sections in blogs. I'd likely jump in more but, truth be told, I find myself rather intimidated. Everyone here seems to have these huge insightful things to say, and I feel I can't contribute on that same level so I just sort of lurk in the corners and read and hit the "like" button from time to time. I was brought into by the Twilight posts as recommended to me by Will, and just devoured the rest of the blog from there (though I'm still working my way through the backlog of other series deconstruction posts). Personally, I'd be sad to see Twilight go, though I think maybe upping the pace (though not by a chapter a week) would work. Though honestly the more blunt societal issues, and meta posts that I find particularly... Enriching? I guess? There are a lot of things that my own privilege and environment has kept me somewhat oblivious to (I'm white, young, attractive, healthy, from a middle-class family, and have spent a lot of time in very sexist/racist/ablelists workplaces) that this blog has made me stop and think about. My Overton window was misplaced until fairly recently, and this blog has played a key role in me finding a place where I want that window to be.

So, I guess the short and long of what I what I want to say is I would be sad to see this blog shut down entirely, but I'd rather get an update or two a week or month then see you burning yourself out.

chris the cynic said...

This has not been a good year for me. It just hasn't. Very little has gone right, a lot has gone wrong, a lot more has threatened to go wrong and those threats have never lapsed instead existing perpectually on the periffery, waiting to overtake me at any moment a destroy any chance I have of not spending the rest of my life in suffering and stagnation.

This place has been a bright spot. You have been a bright spot. I look forward to see what you wrote, be it in the main post or the comments.

I can't speak for those you may have hurt, but you've helped me. Maybe that feels like this. Maybe it even is. But from this angle you've done a lot of good.


I don't think you can judge interest based on comments really. I've been posting less, for example, and that has absolutely nothing to do with me being interested less.


I am not you, and thus do not know you as well as you do. Generally speaking, I post every comment assuming it will either be a useless thing no one cares about and the thread was better off without, or it will be a horrible thing that hurts a lot of people that the world is better off without. Everyone will hate me, I will have burned all of my bridges, and I'll never be able to show my face again due to the shame of it all.

Somehow, that doesn't tend to be how it actually turns out. I keep on posting partially because people tell me that it's good for them, and partly because I feel like I'd head in the direction of The Yellow Wallpaper if I didn't have an avenue to express myself.

Were I in your position I doubt that stopping would be healthy, but I'm not in your position, you are. I want you to do what's best for you.

That said, if knowing what I want can help you make this determination, heres what I'd like:

Twilight continues at its current pace. Yeah, we might never get through it, but I don't think getting through it is the important part. Better to catalogue the wildflowers along the way than focus on the destination.

Beyond Twilight I have no strong feeling about topic, but I'd love to read you talking about whatever makes you happy to write about. Be that animated classics, or wikipedia not being the end all and be all of religious studies. (I've been meaning to write a zombieless zombie story for you with which to communicate the rules of Mao in a way that skirts the issue of blasphemy, by the way. You probably don't remember why I would be thinking of such a thing.)

You staying active in the comments.

You happy.

You willing to tell me that the things I like are problematic without being worried that I'm going to leave because I, personally, am not.

You taking more of an interest in yourself than you take in what any of us want. I very much want you here, working on this blog and active in the comments, but if you would be better off engaging in casual reading, hobbyist reviewing, and professional writing because my desire for you to be happy overrides my desire for you to be here.

A unicorn or a dragon or both, but that is neither here nor there.


I hope things improve for you and that you find the solution that works best for you.

Laura said...

I am usually just a lurker; I really enjoy your writing, and I don't think I have ever had my feelings hurt when you don't like something I do like. I am cautious about commenting, because my instincts are often only to post if I think I disagree with something in an interesting way or have information that would add to the discussion, but I don't think I'm better informed than most of your commenters, and I don't want to be ableist or classist or racist in disagreeing.

(I'm already worried that I am accidentally sounding annoying - "I don't want to talk because everyone is too easily offended!". But it's that you make me think about all the unthought privilege and assumptions that it is too easy to have, and I don't want to accidentally let my privilege leak all over...)

kc said...

Delurking. Moving quickly past SWEET JESUS WHY AREN'T YOU ON VACATION ALREADY what with your current life circumstances - write about whatever you want, whenever you want. I'm here for your brain, not for you to aim it at any specific _thing_. (Also your commenters.) Certainly not for any kind of posting schedule.

Also, you are the Cheerful Happy Bunniest person I have ever ever read. I'm not sure it's possible to be less judgey while still holding an opinion.

Amaryllis said...

Rambly thoughts...

Your first priority right now has to be your health and well-being. If blogging or commenting is causing you so much stress, there's no one here who would blame you for slackening your pace a little. Or a lot. Or completely, for a while, if that's what you need.

I would seriously miss your presence in the comments if you decided to stop responding to them. But again, while you're recovering you health and spirits, and dealing with your family situation, you can only do what you can do. Don't make yourself miserable over us.

You and I have had our disagreements over Narnia, but I hope I haven't been too graceless about it. It doesn't hurt my feelings when you criticize them; I know we've agreed that there are different ways to respond to them. So, question for you: do you prefer the discussion to stick to the lines you lay out in the main post? Is it out of line for me to respond with "it reminds me of this religious image or that Lewisian theme"?

I'm sorry to disappoint Ana's wonderful Husband, but I really can't recommend that you spend any time with ASOIF.
- I don't think you'd enjoy it much.
- It's already all over the internet, and causing trouble everywhere it goes.
- There's just so goddamn much of it, with no end in sight.

If you want to try something completely different-- maybe after Prince Caspian, as a change of scene, so to speak, while you decide if you want to go on with Narnia-- maybe some speculative fiction looking at race and gender from the other side? Like N.K. Jemisin's Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Or maybe something by Nalo Hopkinson; I've never read any of her stuff, we could read together! Or, as a compare-and-contrast to Twilight, maybe Tananarive Due's "Living Blood" novels, which I've never read either.

But in the end, do what makes you happiest. And, as much as I enjoy this blog, I don't think you need to give up everything else in your life for it.

P.S.: you've only cried twice? If it was me, you couldn't see my face for the tearstains. Take care of yourself.

Dragojustine said...


1. I absolutely love all your deconstruction posts. You've taught me things and made me think about things differently and clearly articulated things I've thought but never gotten a handle on. I will love reading whatever deconstructions you do next, at whatever speed.

2. You do not owe us anything. Not your time, not your writing, not your spoons. It's very sad to hear that this has turned into a source of stress or guilt or obligation for you, and you absolutely should take any time off that you need and do things on a schedule that makes it still something you enjoy. If anybody is mad about that, they're entitled jerks.

3. My first reaction is to tell you that if you write this kind of thing, you'll piss people off- it's just part of the package, and not something to agonize over. However, I realize that people vary on a spectrum of how they feel about and deal with conflict. I personally love arguing about this stuff and being in environments where spirited debate is welcome, where it's fine if you push buttons as long as you're really talking about the subject at hand and not gratuitously being a jerk. BUT the kind of safe space that you've worked so hard to create here is valuable and must take a huge amount of emotional energy and dedication to maintain. I also realize that saying "grow a thicker skin" to someone who just doesn't like that style of interaction is both as pointless and as offensive as telling a depressed person to just cheer up. So I don't know what I'm saying here other than that if people express disagreement or anger sometimes at the things you write that absolutely isn't any kind of failing on your part, and I really hope you can reach an emotional place where you can keep that in perspective and know that sometimes it's their problem, or even not really a problem at all.

chris the cynic said...

A lot of what you were saying did sound too familiar for comfort. Certainly seemed depression like, so if the drugs could cause that it seems likely that that's happening.

Alison Parker said...

I also enjoy reading your deconstructions. I actually find that your Twilight posts make the novels accessible to me when they otherwise wouldn't be, because I have this deep-seated fear that they'll trigger thoughts of my abusive ex-boyfriend. (For the same reason, I tend to abuse romantic comedies and many sitcoms.) The fact that I can get some of the plot from your posts, while at the same time any triggering content will be accompanied by you talking about how it's problematic means that I can actually learn something about this cultural phoenomenon.

I enjoy your other posts for different reasons. General deconstructions are good for making me think of wide-spread problems that exist in media, and your Narnia posts are good for making me actually think about a work that I never really analysed at the time I first read it, on account of being six years old. When I last re-read the books, I found them to be quite a disappointment. Child!me thought the books were fun adventures, but adult!me couldn't help but notice that the only real protagonist in the books was Aslan, and everyone else was kind of passive and useless until he rocked up, so I was already open to a discussion of the flaws of the series. Some of your points I agree with, and others not so much, but I can always see where you're coming from, and it's interesting.

As for your health issues, I find it admirable that you're trying to keep up with this blog while you're recovering from surgery, but really, I think you should put yourself first. Take a break if you think you need it, go and read something you enjoy, review it if you want and write some kick-ass literature that I'll buy and read if you ever decide to publish it. And do the blog on a schedule that makes you happy. This is something that you're doing for free, and you you don't owe your readers anything that you don't tell yourself that you owe. I'll still check in hoping for new posts, and be happy with whatever schedule you decide suits you.

Adele said...

Hi! I'm a lurker (I think I've commented no more than twice), but I read all your posts, except for the deconstructions about things that I know nothing about. I would like to thank you for all your posts, as they have opened my mind to the discussion of privilege and ableism and fat acceptance and many other issues, which I had not previously come across.
I should note that I have only read some of the comments to this post, as they are many, but I have read your update.
Despite having quite fond (fairly nostalgic) memories of Narnia, I have appreciated your deconstructions, because they have vocalised issues that were obvious when I reread the books, and have added to my understanding of these, particularly the race related issues. With most of the points that at first I disagreed with, with more thought I found that I now agree with them. With Twilight, I think that you do a great job of going over the problems, both large and small, that there are in the messages presented by the novel.
I have also enjoyed the broader, shorter deconstructions such as the one on 'The Hunger Games'. They act as more of a starting place for my own consideration of the issues, as I am still not used to thinking in the manner that you do so well. Thank you for helping me to start doing that.

However, your health, in my opinion, has to be the first priority. You don't owe anyone anything in regard to this blog, so whatever schedule you decide on I'll continue reading. (Google Reader is a wonderful thing for not missing posts!) I admire how you have kept on going through surgery and other health issues, and the most important thing is that you are able to keep going with your life, and hopefully with this blog, although only in whatever shape or form is sustainable for you. In short, I think that your blog improves the internet! It certainly has made me consider issues in a more thoughtful way. Thank you for writing.

Anonymus said...

*hugs and love for Ana*

we love all your posts! We love Narnia and Twilight and Claymore and stuff. But we want you to be happy and healthy and for your family to be happy and healthy and for you to have all the good things <3333

Don't do ASOIAF. It's depressing and non stop rape and boring politics (the books would be shorter and more interesting if they cut out all the who's going to be king nonesense and politics. and all the rape.) and you'll be hounded by rabid Martin fans like all the other feminists who deconstructed it. *protects Ana*

Seconding the recommend for something by Tananarive Due (I have read the Living Blood trilogy. It's amazing. And Nalo Hopkinson is a fabulous writer too. And I've asked for some of Nemesin's books for my birthday. My age will be divisible by a number I don't like :( I'll have to wait two whole years to get back to good divisors!

Aaron Boyden said...

I love your deconstructions. I'm a pretty huge fan of ASOIAF (I don't just kind of like it), but I've still welcomed reading the various deconstructions of it I've encountered on the web (which I've found persuasive or not to varying degrees, of course), and would love to read yours. However, having read the comments threads in the other deconstructions, and reading what you say here, I think you probably shouldn't chance it.

Jess said...

Hi Ana,

Another lurker here. I've been reading for quite some time and I'll nth everyone else--love the site, love your writing, and I especially love the Narnia posts (I don't comment because I'm one of those RSS people and I read on a smartphone, which makes commenting a very difficult proposition). I admire your commitment to building a community, and your desire to remain involved in that community.

That said, you don't owe us shit. Not a schedule, not apologies for being not perfect enough, not a say in how you run your site. It costs us nothing to come here and read what you have worked so hard to post, and I for one will read whatever you decide to write, whenever you decide to write it.

Your self-care is way more important than keeping a bunch of people happy on the internet.

...And a Don't Fucking Get on My Tits comment policy might be helpful for those who insist on centering themselves and imposing upon you for validation. There are differences between cordial and respectful disagreement, and accusations of bad faith, which is where it sounds like some of these folks are going.

Morgan said...

Another lurker pitching in. I get updates via RSS so there usually aren't many comments when I see a post and I don't, as a rule, try to keep up with them. For me, the posts are the content, and it's your writing in them that keeps me coming back. I enjoy the Twilight stuff, but the Narnia deconstruction is actually more interesting to me at the moment, mostly (I think) because I learn more that I didn't know and am not getting elsewhere about the worldbuilding and setting and so on. Both of those, and your general deconstructions, and the recent mention of Game of Thrones - all are enjoyable to me, though I'm speaking without a personal stake in any of it except perhaps GoT.

Over the last few months and your mentions of your medical situation I've been amazed you're continuing to blog. If doing so is crowding out other activities from your personal time and contributing a whole bunch of stress on top of that, then I would very definitely support you taking a break for as long as you need to. I get the "but if I let myself stop then I'll have failed and never be able to resume" thing, but trust me, a post in a few weeks or months saying "hey, I'm feeling better and ready to return" would be much more welcome than any number of posts in between where I know you're sacrificing your own health to produce them.

Good luck.

Silverbow said...

Just wanted to mention something else...

I get migraines. Bad ones. Sometimes they go on for days, and they leave me completely wiped out afterward. I have a lot of different triggers (weather, fluorescent lights, low blood sugar, lack of sleep, etc.), so I get them very frequently. I had to quit work four years ago because they were so out of control that I couldn't keep to any sort of regular working schedule, so my husband had to become the sole breadwinner. I've been to doctors and neurologists, but we haven't been able to find any medication that works reliably.

I'm mentioning this because I don't have very many spoons either, and I can never tell on any given day how many I'll have when I wake up. Some triggers I can control, but no one can be hyper-vigilant all the time -- and even if I could, one weather change and I'm back in my cage of pain.

So I get the spoon thing. I get not having enough spoons most days to do everything you want, or even most of what you want. I get the guilt and anger that comes with not being as able as everyone else, and feeling like you have to push yourself when you have a halfway decent number of spoons because you know that next day, or next hour, or next minute, all those spoons might be taken away.

But. You do not owe us any spoon-time. I know how precious that time is. And doing anything that takes spoons away from you -- such as stressing out over a blog -- is kind of a bad idea.

Use that time to do what really needs doing, especially things that you enjoy. Enjoying yourself might not give you any more spoons, but it will at least not make that number any smaller. So write what you want. Enjoy speaking your truth. Take pride in the little community you have built here, because that's a worthy achievement.

And let the chips fall where they may -- you can't build anything without making a bit of a mess somewhere. Accept occasional messiness as a part of life. (See above, re: hyper-vigilance.) ;)


jamie fritz said...

I'm fairly new to reading here but I think you should do what you have the spoons to do right now. And institute that "no getting on my tits" policy asap. I don't read the twilight posts, or the narnia ones, I enjoy your meta posts, your 202 + posts on FA and medical stuff, and other miscellany. So I'm an outlier in a few ways.

Ivy Sylvan said...

Hi, Ana,

I was recced to your blog a few months ago by a close friend of mine. I'd finally gotten sick of people telling me that I had no right to critique Twilight because I hadn't read it, and so I did. Your posts literally have kept me sane these last few months! I feel as though I can state my points more articulately and that I've been able to apply what I've learned from this blogs in so many other places than on Meyer's writing. I've started finding problematic patterns in my other reading, and then I began to pay closer attention to how these themes kept creeping into my writing. At the end of the day, anything that makes my stories stronger, that makes me a better person, is the best thing in the world.

To that end, I love all of your deconstructions. It isn't just sparkly vampires that need to be called out when they do something NOT COOL. A book should not be excluded from close reading just because it's old; if that were the case, I know a lot of classic lit professors that need to find new jobs! Yes, the climate in which the book was written is important. That's why I feel that exegetical study of religious texts gives us a fuller understanding of what the founders actually *meant*. However, I feel the same way about people who are overly-defensive of their favorite books as I feel about those who are overly-defensive of their faiths: they need to take a deep breath and calm down. Even though nobody is being attacked, perceived slights are often answered with actual attacks. Especially in the bounds of the safe space agreement, this is not cool.

On the other hand. While it is a problem, and while it does need to be addressed, I don't feel that you should let it weigh on your health--mental, emotional, or physical--to do so. I would be extraordinarily sad to see any part of this great blog go away. I love the discussion in the comments; I love the wide-ranging look at social issues in all sorts of mediums. Ultimately, though, the most important thing is your health and happiness. All of us fans be damned, what works for *you*? I, at the least, will stay regardless.

Gelliebean said...

It might help to look at your blog as your internet home - you've kindly and graciously opened it up to the rest of us, provided brain-food and a very safe place to hang out, but in the end it's still got to be your house, your rules. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying that you need some time where you don't have to 'entertain' guests. If I had gone through everything you have recently, it's even odds whether maintaining a blog and dealing with the myriad different kinds of reactions it generates would end up being the thing that prevented cabin fever, or the one thing that pushed me to the breaking point. Only you can say which of those it is for you.....

I love everything you write, even when I don't feel like I have anything useful to add to the conversation. I love the conversations that happen here; all the wonderfully clever and insightful ideas and the new ways of thinking about things. I don't love having to recognize negative things about myself that your posts may make me realize, but I believe that being uncomfortable in that way is a necessary part of my own learning curve and I'm trying to seek it out. I would be sad if you stopped writing all together, but I'd be sadder and much more worried if you were neglecting your own needs to keep up a schedule that doesn't seem like it's working for you right now.

Fay said...

Hi Ana, yet another lurker here. Obviously, as I do not live your life, I cannot know the extent of how these feelings affect you IRL; so I can't say my experience is comparable, but based solely on this post, it sounds similar. I also cannot stand having people upset because of something I have written--and that goes for people I'm ARGUING with, too--to the point where I can have panic attacks over someone being slightly cold to me, assuming it's my fault. I don't mean to derail with My Problems, only to say that...I can sympathize, and the fact that you continue to post despite feeling this way is...frankly inspiring.

I do not know what the best path is for you to take. I wish I did, I wish I could be more helpful than I'm being. The honest truth is that I think things are best the way they are. No matter how carefully you craft your words, there are people who will read your post already having decided what their response is to it; and in a lot of cases there's nothing you can do to change those people's minds. You are responsible for your words, yes, but as readers we also bear responsibility. We should recognize that you are a very kind human being and (more importantly imo) a good listener and learner, and that your politeness doesn't come out of some Nice Guy attitude but a genuine desire for open conversation. I know intent isn't magic, but it also isn't meaningless. I have been reading this blog for awhile and I've never seen you bear malicious intent to anyone but fictional characters--even your posts about real-life things, things that have HURT you, don't come across as attacks on people but rather voicing of a point of view that is too-often silenced. You are doing all that you can to avoid hurting or angering people, and it's not enough because there are people who can be hurt or angered by nearly any opinion.

I'm not trying to invalidate that hurt or anger. But I really wish you didn't hurt because of it, because the good you do just by speaking about these things is (to me, at least) so, so much. Your words are powerful, and thoughtful, and beautiful. The conversations you create, even the ones that get heated, make people think and make people feel. That's what good conversations do.

I am probably making a mess of myself and my point, and I'm sorry for that: the crux of what I wanted to say is, Ana, please do not give up on yourself or on your words. Do whatever you have to, to make this space as safe for you as it feels for people like me--but please, please do not give up. You let me know I'm not alone in cheerfully reading too much into things. You inspire me. And I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Also, for what it's worth, *big internet stranger hugs* if you are open to them.

SherryH said...

I feel like maybe I should keep my nose out of this, because I came late to the party (found your blog maybe a month or so ago) and I don't comment on the Twilight threads.

I have enjoyed the Twilight threads AND the Narnia threads. I haven't read Twilight, so it's kind of neat for me to see someone with strong opinions based in solid theories walk through them. It's been forever and a day since I've read Narnia, but I've never seen it deconstructed, at least not the way you do, and it's fascinating. (All those things I never paid attention to! And when you point them out, it's just like the FedEx arrow. How could I have missed it??)

That said, *please* do what works for you. You have got a lot on your plate, including the sheer energy involved in just hurting and healing. If there are not enough spoons in the day to write a deconstruction, let it go. If someone sends you a big honking rant about how you didn't think of this or were unfair to write that, remember that there are probably ten or a hundred of us who are fascinated and probably agree with most or all of what you say and haven't bothered or haven't known how to write that down and send it in. (Now I feel like a jerk... I'll try to comment more often!)

I also wanted to say, I love it when you write about personal stuff and social stuff other than just deconstructions. You could post nothing but ruminations about your personal life, and I'd stop by and read it. I don't want to pat you on the arm and say, "It's okay if you lose people over stuff you post, just don't let it get to you" because it does hurt and it does matter. (Though to some extent, I think it's bound to happen sometimes anyway.)

I do think you've got a lot on your plate right now, and I know that for me, personally, that can lead to handling it, I'm okay, I've got this, I'm managing... until everything goes off the rails. It's easier if I can avoid getting to that point, and if people are hurt by it or disappointed in me, they will have to live with it. (This is easier said than done.) Also, when I'm sick or healing, I don't always realize how low my energy has gotten until it bottoms out and I cannot cope at all anymore with anything. Also better to avoid, though that is also easier said than done.

You say one option is to "just publish whatever I can whenever I can and deal with stuff when I have the spoons. " I think that is a very good idea. If it doesn't make you unhappy. But that's my advice: Take or create some time and space for yourself. Heal. Recuperate. Take care of Ana. Because that matters. You matter. And for what it's worth, I'm pulling for you, and I think others are as well.

It is late. I may have rambled. I hope this is coherent. Shorter version: I'm really glad I found your blog and I love what you do here and I hope you're able to keep it up in some capacity and also take care of you. Be well.

Makabit said...

Good Lord.


In no particular order, and talking about Martin a bit too much:

You write about intense things. Discussion about what you write is bound to be equally intense, and sometimes people don't do it well. Or nicely. This is not your fault. We're all grownups here on the Interwebz, or pretending to be.

I love the Twilight stuff, because it's something I would never read myself, but I think your take on it is hilarious. I love the Narnia stuff. I don't agree with all of what you say about these things, or with all of what other commenters say, but it is interesting to read, and fun to talk about.

I am, myself a big Martin fan--or rather, I am a Martin reader. I love the books--not in the sense that I identify with anyone in them, or feel they taught me much about life, or do not see the sometimes Hilarious Massive Fail Roller Derby plastered all over them, but because they are compelling popcorn-chomping reads, and because, as I've said, I see Martin as doing a lot of subversion of long-standing festering Bad Ideas in fantasy--which makes me cackle like a hyena--while retaining tons of others. I do feel a certain amount of defensiveness about my Martinlove, because there is a certain trend on the Interwebz of people being rather handwringingly pious about how they don't like it. But you are not them. If you want to tear ASOIAF up one side and down the other, I will read it happily, and probably agree with about four fifths of what you say. If others can't cope, ban their butts.

This is your blog. You are not here to make us happy. That you do make us happy is a pleasant bonus. For us.

What I'm hearing from you is a lot of stress, and that saddens me. You are doing all the right things, and while I understand that you want to work hard on this blog, you should not be stressed about it. For this reason, I like the concept of a "Don't Get On My Tits Policy".

I'm not sure that fighting is a bad thing. Sure, we can all yell at each other about what's acceptable to criticize in Lewis, and what isn't--what of it? But if people are taking it to your e-mail, or acting like they're being personally hurt if someone don't like their take on things, that's different.

My advice about Twilight? If you're having fun with the snail's pace, go on like that. Slacktivist is only starting the third Left Behind book after three or four years. If you feel it's losing something, mark out the posts you really want to do, and speed up. Give us a short infodump, and scoot along to the next total awful.

And be good to yourself.

VeraBruptly said...

De Lurker here. I love your deconstructions! The thing is, you are holding white authors up for examination, and old white guys in particular get defended beyond all reason against any critique.

Gotchaye said...

Mostly a lurker. Ditto all the sympathy and well-wishing. I'd say that it's your blog and you should do what you need to do, but it sounds like you're not sure what that is.

Maybe, alongside whatever you do decide to go for, regular (and not so regular) commenters could make it a point to try harder to step in and try to talk down the sorts of commenters that are causing problems for you.

Personally, I really like the non-Twilight stuff. I've admittedly been skimming those for a while now just because I'm not that interested in the books and it seems like they keep failing in the same ways. I've loved the Narnia coverage, and got pretty into the Avengers thread (I think that's one of maybe two threads I've commented on before this one), and I enjoy these just because I like the source material. So I suppose I don't really have an opinion on how you handle Twilight going forward. Do it if and as often as you feel like, I say.

Anyway, I love what you're doing here, but take care of you first. Best wishes.

Marie Brennan said...

Alas, I don't have the time to read all the preceding comments (which I usually try to do, but my two cents' worth:

1) Chuck the schedule. Your health comes first; blog when you have the time and energy. We'll still be here when you post.

2) I can't solve the Twilight pacing problem for you, except to point out that you're making vastly better time than Fred Clark has done on Left Behind. :-)

3) When you posted the list of things you might deconstruct alongside Twilight (before settling on Narnia), there were things on that list I didn't want to see you pick apart, because I like them and don't want to anatomize their flaws. But I shrugged and thought "whatever; if she does those, I just won't read those posts." No skin off my nose. If I ever get upset by something you say about Narnia (not bloody likely to happen with Twilight), I'll just skip over future entries on the subject, and go on reading everything else.

4) I like people bringing up details of historical or biographical significance because for me, it expands my understanding of the story. But the fact that Lewis may in fact have been thinking of Romani people when he wrote his description of Black Dwarves in no way changes the fact that the description has very unfortunate resonance with African-American issues today. (To pick one example.) The amazing thing about stories is they can mean all those things at once. I don't know if that would be useful to you as a response to people who get up in arms about you seeing problems with what Lewis wrote, but it's how I personally reconcile the issue.

5) . . .if I had a number five, I forgot it. So let's just end with "I hope you get some rest, and walk away from this comment thread less stressed."

Loquat said...


Do what you gotta do.

I've been reading your blog for - dang, has it been a year already? Wow. Anyhow, I'd be perfectly happy to see you keep on doing what you've been doing, if that's what you want to do. Picking Twilight apart in minute detail is highly entertaining to me, but if you want to go faster I'm sure I'll find that entertaining too.

If you're looking for a different thing to decon, might I suggest Avatar: The Last Airbender? If nothing else, watching it might help take your mind off what you're dealing with now.

kd15 said...

I've been lurking for several months now. I love the deconstructions, particularly the Narnia ones because I have found the deconstructions and ensuing conversations in the comments fascinating and I've really learned a lot from those conversations. I think a LOTR deconstruction would be fabulous or conversations on Star Wars or really anything. But the most important thing is that you take care of yourself. It's amazing what you have been able to do so far since the surgery and if you need to shut it down for a while while you focus on recovering, please do so. Do what you can when you have the spoons and give yourself the time and space to recuperate.

Rainicorn said...

You are awesome. I adore your writing, and I hope you'll make the decision that's best for you and not feel overly pressured by us readers. Haters can, as Mark of Mark Reads used to say, familiarize themselves with the left-hand evacuation procedure.

Thette said...

I generally don't comment or read the comment threads, but I love your posts, especially the Narnia ones. You give me so many new things to think about, like the good hair/bad hair issue. Your Little Mermaid deconstruction was wonderful, and I recommended it to a classmate from childhood on Facebook, and she loved your blog.

treesandmagma said...

Yet another lurker here. I have been reading your blog for well over a year and have really loved your posts (both Twilight and Narnia in particular). I suppose that in some respects, I am not the target audience for this particular post, because I had no love for Twilight (although, oddly, your deconstruction had got me to read the damned thing - and plaster my dead-tree version of it with seeming gallons of angry ink) and, although I read part of the Narnia series in middle school, it really did not take hold with me as it seems it did for everyone else. (I swear, until you started doing the deconstruction for Prince Caspian, the only thing that I retained from the whole book was Susan proving that she had been Queen Susan via her unsurpassed archery, and being somewhat sad to do so.)

In addition, let's just say that my perspective on many, many items of art, literature, film, etc has been been informed by, uh, 'irreverence' (starting with Mystery Science Theater in high school), to the point that I am glad to read these deconstructions which have a lot of humor, but also touch upon a lot of deep (and deeply troubling) cultural issues in said works.

In any case, I would really miss all of the deconstructions and other posts, but as many people have already said, you are the most important thing here - so if you need to go on hiatus, dial back on posts (or speeed them up), or put restrictions on comments, I would more than understand.

I guess I just wanted to let you know that one more person really loves what you are doing here and appreciates all the time and energy you put into it.

Thank you for that.

Patrick said...

Ana, I rarely comment here. But I read. I love your deconstructions. I am currently writing I (positive) review of Pulchritude. Please don't stop.

I have deconstructed Twilight on my site. And Fledgling (Octavia Butler). And right now, Game of Thrones. I blog about social issues. If there is one thing I learned: any single post means I lose a reader. But any single post also means I gain one. I have had loudly declared departures, but also people who became friends via comments.

As a writer, you surely know how you cannot please everyone. But you're pleasing many. And you're initiating discussion. I think that's a huge success.

Thank you for doing what you do.

Need to know said...

In the event of an in-flight emergency *put your own oxygen mask on first*. You cannot do a damn thing for anyone else without you take care of yourself.

So- if you need to slow down or chuck the schedule then do it.

If writing the de-cons at the present depth and/or intensity is bad for your head or making you unhappy then don't do them that way.

And, girl, get yourself the biggest damn My Last Nerve, You Are Standing On It In Stiletto Heels banhammer you can find to go with a Get Off My Tits comment policy. This is your blog.

Particularly wanted to respond to the idea of people getting a sad over the deconstructions. I am SO not the demographic for Twilight (see, 50+ years old and feminist) and your deconstructions are both more thoughtful and less insulting than others I've seen. But seeing them dismantled isn't personal for me.

I think people respond sometimes differently to deconstructions of things they like. I don't think that means those things shouldn't be deconstructed.

Personal example- Peter Pan. I LOVE me some Peter Pan- give me some vintage Mary Martin singing "I Won't Grow Up" and I am a happy woman. In fact- the stage show is my canonical Peter Pan, the animated feature annoys me and the book... Well, I didn't read the book until I was 14 or 15. And I could see right away that there were things in there that were not perfect. So I love the book but not as much as the stage show though it still falls partly into that same sweet nimbus of HappyFeels.

I can look at Peter Pan and say that there's some racist things happening and I'm not crazy about the gender roles. It doesn't invalidate the way I felt when they 'flew' Peter out over the audience when I dragged a friend to the Cathy Rigby revival. It doesn't make me a bad person. It makes me a person who loves a story that was written in a different time. Talking about what's not great and why is a good thing and not an attack on me.

A deconstruction is "This is what I see in this work and here's what I think". You do deconstructions, and you do them really well. I don't know what else you can do, short of put a "This is not about you" disclaimer on the de-con posts. Because we cannot, as a society, fix what we can't talk about.

TL:DR- take care of you. Enforce what policies make this blog happiest for you. Write what you want to write. In return I, personally, will try to comment more (so you know you're being heard) and to do so at least as politely as you do because it's your space. You are doing a great job here and I wish I had said so sooner.

Michael said...


I've never commented here before. Actually before a day or two ago, I've never commented anywhere before. But since you've specifically solicited the input of the lurking sorts and since I've been reading here for quite a while now, I wanted to tell you a few things.

Your writing has given me a very particular sort of joy. I want to thank you for that.

I really do believe you when you say you've spent hours filing the jagged edges off things. When your posts are confrontational, I've never found them unkindly so. Sometimes I wholeheartedly nod along, sometimes I decide you've given me something to think about, and I occasionally think your conclusions are completely and utterly off the mark. But I've never regretted the reading of them.

What should you write about and what schedule should you keep? Hell, I don't care. And I mean that in the nicest, most flattering way. If you wrote a deconstruction of Candyland pointing out the newer boards changed the last square from purple to rainbow as a sign of inclusiveness making it easier for anyone to win... I'd probably still find it worthwhile. Twilight is still entertaining and I didn't read Narnia until I turned 30, so it never really had that rosy sheen for me.

Don't let your play feel like work. Don't treat a blog like an obligation. Unless you're seeing tons of filthy advertising lucre.

Take Care.

AGDunn said...

[delurk] Your deconstruction posts, and all the posts about privilege and medical issues, are incredibly textured and thoughtful. I can't be the only person who's been made better at understanding by reading your work. It's a real highlight each week.

But you don't owe anyone that highlight, and you shouldn't disregard the psychic cost from either real-world or commenting-related problems. Do as much or as little (in whatever form you want), and take the same attitude to your comments policy. Spoon-management has to be your first priority.

LE said...

Hi Ana,

long time reader, first time commenter here.

First of all - I love this blog! The Twilight and Narnia posts are currently my favourites, but even when you write about things I haven't read or watched myself, I always find your posts interesting. Also, "Pulchritude" was one of the reasons I finally bought an e-reader and I liked it very much. :)

I do occasionally disagree with some of the things you have written (I am a quite passionate fan of ASOIAF ;D), but I have never felt angry or hurt by anything I have read here. This is actually one of the things I love about reading this blog - it makes me think, and sometimes even change my mind. I haven't participated in any discussions yet because I am already spending too much time infront of my computer as it is, but I also love the comments here. I think your comment policy is very thoughtful and makes reading the comment section a really pleasant experience.

Now this may sound weird, but I am actually writing this comment to say that I don't want you to care about my opinion. Please, do with your blog whatever makes YOU happy and what is most comfortable in your current situation. If that means you have to change your usual blogging schedule, or that you have to write less, that you have to take a break for some time or have to change your comment policy, then that's the right thing to do in my opinion.

I am grateful that you put so much time and effort into sharing your thoughts here, and I think you are a great person for caring so much about other people's feelings, but in the end, YOU are the most important person on this blog. It belongs to you alone and it should be something that makes you happy, not a source of distress.

Best wishes, LE

Jolene said...

Delurking to say that I love your work and am hugely bowled over by how prolific and consistent your posts are despite all the personal difficulties you've had lately. Yours is always the first feed in my RSS reader I look at, if there are unread posts, and the quality of comments discussions here never ceases to surprise me. In particular, I am someone who has always carried a rose-tinged view of Narnia, thinking that I deeply loved it and found it enchanting even as I found the religious allegory problematic, and your deconstructions have actually gone a long way to changing my mind and helping me understand things about myself which I'd overlooked before, in assessing why I had never seen the books from these new perspectives before. I think you do a fantastic job of balancing the importance of the perspectives you offer with the question of their inevitably subjectivity.

You owe us absolutely nothing and shouldn't go on if it's at the cost of self-care, but FWIW, I am one data point who would be sorry to see you post less.

Reiko said...

Another lurker here. I've been reading your posts for a while, particularly the Twilight ones, and I've loved them. I love how I've gotten some insight into just what Twilight is all about, and learning that yeah, it really is that bad. I love how eye-opening your Narnia posts have been, considering I haven't read the books since I was a kid and I didn't even realize the Christian allegories were a thing. I love how clever and insightful and funny your writing is, and I feel that I'm a better person for having lurked here for so long and realized some of the difficult issues you've discussed here. This is the place where I've learned what 'ableism' means and why dealing with it is just as important as dealing with sexism and racism and all that.

I'm not the kind of person who does a lot of commenting - in fact, this is the first comment I remember making in recent memory. But I wanted to make a comment here, because it's worth going out of my way to show my support for you and your blog.

And as others have said, your health and happiness is more important than providing blog posts for us. Even if you decide to quit here, I know that the effort you've put into this blog has touched my life in a positive way, and I'll always be glad for having found it. And whatever you decide to do from here, I'll keep coming back as long as you're still posting.

I dunno if that covers everything I want to say, but in summary, thank you. This blog has meant a lot to me, even if I haven't been all that vocal about it.

AnotherLoker said...

Hi Ana, another lurker here; from Holland. I never comment anything but I do follow your twilight posts and I love them. Every Saturday I just run to my computer to check whether the new twilight post is already there; if not, as I also have noticed a while ago your health problems, then I assume you don't feel very well, and this is allright, I mean, your health is above anything else, right?, and really hope that you feel better! I just wanted to say that i follow this blog and as I have read in other comment, I subscribe too: it means a lot to me, I really enjoy reading the posts and all the comments. Please take care and just publish posts when you feel well to do so! Hope this and all the previous kind comments, will help you a bit to feel better, we support you! Thank you!

Guest said...

Non-commenter posting, first time.

I haven't been following Narnia, but I read most other posts. After reading this, I am interested to go and peruse some of the Narnia postings. No big reason for my previous avoidance; I just already had some familiarity with the problematic material and generally wasn't super into Narnia, anyway.

As to why people get upset and leave, I don't have a great explanation. The sun can hurt a little when you're not used to its beams shining in your window. But, I think it's pretty clear that deconstructing books/media and talking about the problems inherent within is the basis of this blog. So, if those readers are interested in a full understanding, maybe they'll come back when they relax and heal a bit and realize that it's nicer to be aware than to be happily oblivious.

To that end, if I'm being honest, every now and again I wish I could experience again the pure, sweet delight I felt the first time I read books like _A Wrinkle in Time_ (Kids talking about Ideas! Celebrating Smart Stuff!) without being troubled by my adult perspectives and some of the underlying allegorical and language choices. In the same way, occasionally I wish I could just watch a movie without automatically running it through those same filters. But I've always felt more powerfully the desire to know and understand. I want to be aware. And that's one of the reasons I continue to read (and enjoy!) your blog and think about the things you say.

Our culture and society is complex. Our literature and other media sets up an even more complex mirror. I'm so glad you're finding a way through all these complexities, and posting about them.

Best wishes for health and happiness, and for finding the right choices for you!

Akedhi said...

Another lurker chiming in.

I love your blog and hope you are able to continue it, but first and foremost, you have to take care of yourself! Do whatever is best for you and helps get you through post-surgery etc as healthy and as happy as possible. If you have to take a break, that's not a failure.

I don't have an opinion on ASOIAF, but if I may add a comment regarding Narnia (which, given lurker-status, take with a grain of salt - or a whole shaker, if you like): I don't take it at all personally that you are deconstructing a series about which I have strong, positive feelings from childhood. Sometimes the Narnia posts are difficult-to-impossible for me to read, or I can't get into the comments, but that's on me, and I skip them and see if I have the spoons for the next post. When I do have the spoons to follow the Narnia deconstruction, I find that the things you have to say are valuable and contain perspectives I had not considered before. If you are up to continuing them, please do so.

Ennognochi said...

I really want to say and let you know I love and adore your blog. Your writing deconstructions and posts on all things encourages me to think, to empathise and learn from those who are different than me. To look at the world and my place in it, to see why I think the things I do due to privilige, society and my place in both. I thank you for doing so, and hope in the future you will constinue to do so. That being said, I only hope you will do so if it's good for you. Having undergone a major surgery, with everything else going on in your life... if you need a break, take a break. If you need to change a schedule, change it. It's not selfish to know when you need you time, nor is it a crime to take care of yourself.

jill heather said...

I enjoy your Twilight and Narnia posts, both; as someone who rather enjoys the GoT tv show but was indifferent to the books, I'd enjoy that too -- but I can see the hordes of comments on that coming down like molten gold. I do think that the Twilight books can be sped up some overall . . . if some specific scene seems to want a more detailed deconstruction, there is no reason not to expand that one while generally going 2 chapters/month. (Or whatever speed you like.) I don't comment on it or on Narnia much because I don't actually remember the books well enough to do so, and sometimes I get busy and feel like I've missed the boat on a 3 day old post because you've posted so often since then, and because I am generally such an irregular commenter so I don't really feel part of the conversation. (This is about me, not about how often you should post. I also sometimes don't comment because I cannot keep track of what things might need a trigger warning -- I don't object to them, but generally don't hang out in places that use them, and it's quite difficult to do well on an occasional basis. I'd prefer not to comment than to muck that up.)

I particularly love your one-off deconstructions (I was a big fan of The Little Mermaid and would love to read more Disney ones when you are able to do them, though you should only do them when you have the energy).

I will, however, try to comment a bit more. I do not always agree with you, but I have never felt attacked by any disagreements.

Gray Woodland said...

First and foremost: Take care of yourself. I love your deconstructions even - sometimes especially - when they run flat counter to my way of seeing things. I particularly like the Narnia ones because I like the Narnia books and care about them, whereas from what I know of Twilight I'd rather juggle electric eels standing in a bucket of cold custard than read it. I like to watch you and the gang take it apart, but that's about my only interaction with it. For Lord of the Rings my feelings about Narnia would go double, if not squared. My sluggish commentary is not a marker for lack of enthusiasm: you run one of the notable bright spots on the net, and I would seriously miss it.

If it's hurting you, or draining energy you don't have right now, please drop the whole dashed thing in a heartbeat, until and unless you feel differently about it.

Failing that need, set up as safe a space as you wish by any means that seem appropriate, specifically including giving me or any other party an invitation to the world as and when their presence is no longer a net positive for you. Getting literary goodies from you for free is great: getting them at your expense would be quite something else, and I wouldn't want to be a part of that.

I can't offer much more specific advice, because I really don't know what would work for me in your situation, let alone what might work for you. What I do know is that my own natural instinct would be to slog on, feeling slowly worse until I could slog no more - and that this instinct has been wrong every single time I've followed it. That, I can wholeheartedly disrecommend.

Also, let me add another bean to the Don't Attempt ASoIaF pile. Those books are a very great achievement, and simultaneously a very great pile of things I loathe. I doubt you'd enjoy them, and they seem to have an unparallelled power to summon an infinite horde of livebait-flinging trolls to their defence. Almost anything else would be better.

In sum: thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderful stuff you've been doing; my very best wishes to you and yours in these hard days; and please, whilst I totally get what you're doing and it's spectacularly working for me, by all means pack in or limit it when it stops working for you. But if you do choose to carry on the way you have been - well, from where I stand it's a ruddy good way, that's all.

Nina said...

Oh, Ana, I am so sorry you've been having a rough time with the blog lately. Even if it is partly the drugs talking, you do an enormous amount of hard intellectual work for this blog, followed by a lot of hard emotional work while you calm everyone down and manage comments, so it isn't surprising that you are feeling burned out. I agree with a lot of other people upthread: your health comes first. I'm amazed (and personally thrilled because I love reading your writing!) that you've kept up posts the way you have after major back surgery, but you don't owe it to us to keep it up. Especially not if it has become a serious source of stress, instead of fun. It's not like you have a contract to fulfill.

Personally, my favorites are your Narnia posts because I loved them as a child and I really enjoy looking at them through a critical lens, especially facilitated by someone with so much respect for the material and for my past enjoyment of them. I've never felt attacked by the way you do deconstructions which I think says a lot for the respectful way you approach the material and the people who may have loved it. It boggles me that some people feel otherwise, considering that's why I come to read your deconstructions in the first place - I know I will get quality analysis, without being made to feel bad if I liked (or still like or will always like) the work in question.

On a problem solving level, it might be worth trying to get through the Twilight posts faster, especially if you feel they are bogging down. I have been enjoying the pace, and I try not to worry about when we will finish (or if we ever will), but if you are getting tired of them or feeling trapped by Twilight, then that might be a good compromise solution. Especially if some of the commenters who have read them are willing to weigh in with other problematic parts that you had to gloss over.

As far as Narnia is concerned, I really hope you carry on with it because they are my favorites, but if they are really stressing you out, maybe a break after PC is in order. In general terms, it seems like going to a "I write when I have the spoons" schedule might be the best solution to still getting the blogging in but not burning out on it. Maybe when things have calmed down and you are more recovered from surgery and aren't feeling as hurt/frustrated/depressed/exhausted about the whole thing you can pick up your amazing multi decons a week schedule. But there's no obligation and no hurry. Hang in there, Ana, and *hugs* if you want them.

Ana Mardoll said...

If I had the time, I would individually thank every person in this thread for all your kind words. Thank you, thank you, thank you. There is a follow-up post here. I apologize for my emotional meltdown like this and I'm going to go get some rest today. Thank you all.

Comrade Day said...

Well, I really love reading your deconstructions of Twilight and of Narnia, but I don't comment because I don't feel I have anything to add/the comment section gets sooo involved and I don't have time to read every single one to ensure I'm not repeating someone. I'm a soldier, and I like to read your posts as a small treat work break to myself, but I don't have enough time to read and comb the comments.

I am always recommending your blog to folks, though; in fact, I just told a friend to because she was complaining about how Twlight and 50 Shades of Grey are really awful because of how unhealthy the central romances are. So even if some of us don't comment, we're definitely reading and spreading the word!

Carolynn said...

Hi, Ana. I comment much less than I should, because the interface is not the easiest, but I want to thank you for everything you've been writing here. I love it and look forward to it regularly. And, as everyone has said, you come first. Your wellbeing is the priority, and none of your readers would begrudge a stepdown or hiatus until you are better.

Thomas Keyton said...

First off, I love your blog. Your posts are all kinds of awesome, and I personally would be quite happy to read your thoughts on furniture assembly if it was something you were enthusiastic about (hell, I came here for the Narnia decons but got interested in the Twilight ones based on your standard of analysis). And add me to the list of people who don’t mind (and in some cases kind of enjoy) your pointing out bits of fail in things like ASoIaF or Tolkien.
Do what you need to. Take a break, post pictures of kittens and baby otters, abandon the regular schedule, whatever. Whatever makes you healthier and happier.

Ursula L said...

First of all, I'd say to choose a pace that you can handle comfortably. It doesn't have to be regular, just whatever fits your teaspoons for the day.

As for the pacing of Twilight, I'd say to go with what is fun and feels right for any given day. It doesn't have to be a steady pace. Maybe one chapter has tons of cool stuff you want to talk about, and you spread it out, and the next is less interesting to you, so you cover it in one post.

And also at a pace that feels right for having something fresh to say in each new post. If you find (as I think you mentioned once) that you're getting frustrated or bored pointing out the same problems with the story in several consecutive posts, then it may be more enjoyable for you to put those bits of material into one post, make the point once, and then be able to go on to another section with a different issue to talk about the next week. The same problems will surely come up again, later in the book, and you can address those issues then, when you've had a bit of a break with something else.

Fred goes quite slow with his LB deconstruction. But he has the advantage that those books are so awful, in so many ways, and the awfulness is tied to very real awfulness in larger society. So he can mix things up a bit. One week, he's writing about bad character development. Another week, bad theology. Sometimes, it's bad aspects of modern conservative evangelical culture. Other times, bad politics. There are weeks about racism, weeks about misogyny. Sometimes it's about bad pacing in the story.

Good deconstruction is not merely about the books, but also about having different conversations about the world.

The Twilight books have problems. But they're not in the running for the World's Worst Books Ever. So the deconstruction tends to be focused on fewer issues. Which can slow down discussion, when the same or similar issues are brought up a few posts in a row - you wind up with one conversation over two or three posts, rather than starting the conversation fresh on a new topic with each post.

Also, deconstruction doesn't have to be negative. I've had wonderful deconstruction discussions online which were entirely about the ways in which a very good story did wonderful things with multiple layers of meaning. There was a thread at Gallifrey Base in the viewing marathon section, rewatching season 5 and 6, called "Through the Looking Glass..." which is a great example of a delightful and very positive deconstruction.

Particularly for Narnia, which is an old favorite for so many (including you) it might be fun to mix it up a bit with some discussion about when things are done well. For example, Lewis does a wonderful job writing food - he can even make eating dirt sound appetizing. (The various types of dirt that were dug up for trees to eat at a feast.) He also writes the culture in a way that invites questions and imagination on the part of the reader, which can lead to fun such as speculating on how the Narnian economy worked during the Hundred Year Winter. He also does some odd things, such as a multi-chapter flashback in the form of one character telling other characters a story, but from the point of view of a third character where the character telling the story shouldn't know the things he's saying. That invites a thread just to speculate and rewrite the story from Trumpkin's perspective, as a way for commentors to play a bit. Or how would a Narnian feast look written with contemporary food sensibilities, rather than from a perspective colored by the rationing in Britain during and after WWII, and the food trends of that time?

If you feel things are getting negative in comments, then mixing things up with some posts on problems and others on more fun parts of the book might help keep the tone of the conversation where you want it.

Hyperio said...

Take care for yourself. Your health should come first, and our enjoyment second. (And I enjoyed most of your deconstructions, I found them informative, and even those that I didn't enjoy it was because of the subject matter, not the quality of your writing!)

I don't mind to have your blog on an irregular schedule - I use RSS, so I will read your posts as they come (or as I find the time to read them).

Jeldaly said...

Oh my god, Ana. I'm sorry! I almost never comment, especially on Twilight, because I'm not qualified at all, but please know that I look forward to your Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday posts more than almost anything in the blogosphere. Please feel better, and no pressure on anything Twilight-related - do what you think is best.
Also: much as I love you and your blog, if you're upset and stressed about it, you can just post when you can, like most bloggers, if that's easier for you...? But again, no pressure, and do what you think is best for you.

Maartje said...

I adore all your posts.

Yes, I like ASOIAF and I will talk about how I see things differenlty, but your blog is the only blog where I'd even attempt that because you do the 'different people can like and dislike different things for good reasons' perspecive so well (and I hope I do it justice).

What makes me very happy: Lots of Ana posts.
What would make me even more happy: Fewer Ana posts, but written by a happier Ana.

Chance your opinion and mine disagree in any given post: 20%
Change I'll ever want to stop reading your posts because you disagree with me: 0%

Smilodon said...

I enjoy your blog a great deal. I first came to read the Twilight, and slowly started reading the other things. If I don't find myself enjoying a topic you're covering (not everyone likes all things, after all) it's easy to skip over it. I agree that the comments section is amazing (and one of the best comments section of any blog I've read). Which is a credit to you as well as to all the commenters.

I'm not that fussed about the schedule, since I basically read blogs whenever I get slow days at work, and not when I don't. I like knowing when there is a schedule, since it's something to look forward to (and changes the order that I check through my list of blogs), but I'm going to read it on my own timeline anyway. When Fred said "there won't be any LB posts until date x" I still checked Slacktivist regularly. I just didn't make a special effect to check Slacktivist on Fridays (or Mondays).

Maybe this idea is ridiculous, but if you're worried about having less or unmoderated threads when you're really busy, maybe you could have some sort of note that lets people know when you'd moderated last, and if someone is worried about triggers they would be able to avoid comments posted since then? I don't know if people have concerns about reading the comments section when they are less moderated. Personally, I haven't been affected by changes in your moderation level, but I don't know if that's because the commenters here are great, or because I read at such an odd schedule that usually by the time I get to a thread it's usually been moderated anyway.

Smilodon said...

In case my comment sounds like I'm trying to make demands on you, I'm not. Conveying tone in text is hard for me.

Most blogs I read don't have schedules at all. If you drop "having a schedule" I will not care in the least. The only effect it will have on me is that I'll stop hitting refresh at 9:58am on Saturdays (which is only some Saturdays anyway when I'm awake and free in the morning).

And I've never been personally affected by unmoderated threads on your blog. I know you put a lot of work into making sure that the threads are safe spaces, and I threw out the idea since I thought you might like to have a way to tell people when moderation is low. But I don't think it would affect me either way. Like I said, mostly people are really good here.

April Marie Gilbert said...

Sweetheart, I'm sorry that people are basically being stupid. Personally, I enjoy your deconstructions. Personally, I loved the Narnia books as a child. They were probably my most read books. However, I realise that you are NOT attacking the books but using them to point out flaws in society. If you want to chuck your schedule for when you post them and just post when you get around to them, that's great for you. I want you to do what makes you happy and what you have the spoons for.

I LOVE that you put a lot of work into making your blog and the threads safe spaces. I'm very sorry that some people are taking things more personally than maybe they should. I can't speak for anyone but myself. But I enjoy reading what you write. Whether it is Twilight, Narnia, or your personal life. Though I enjoy your posts on your personal life a lot more because you are going through something I have never experienced and can only hope that I will never experience anything like it. I feel sad that you have to go through it but also realise due to lack of knowledge in the medical profession that there really isn't much I can do apart from offer my support and to educate myself as much as possible so I can try to understand what you are going through. I only comment when I actually have something to say. I figure if I have nothing constructive to say, then why bother saying it at all? I do realise that you get the social interaction out of comments but sometimes it's hard for me to come up with something. And knowing you are a person with a limited amount of spoons I try not to make you use up a spoon that you may need somewhere else for something more important. But I do try every now and then to comment to let you know I'm still here. In the end, I will support whatever decision you make.

kbeth said...

Well, I'm a bit late to the party, but I wanted to add some happy thoughts for you. I really love reading all your posts here, Ana, despite how it may seem from my comments; I generally only comment when I disagree with something in a way that I think would add to the conversation. But I also find your posts very interesting and thought-provoking and I think about the world a little differently because of them. Your mental health comes first, though! Please do what you need to do to keep yourself happy and healthy.

Casus Belli said...

Hi Anna,

Lurker here, and I haven'y read the other comments.

I love your blog posts. I don't necessarily agree with all of them (surprise!), but they always bring a new perspective and get me thinking of things in ways I would noy have thought of. I think you're a credit to Writing(tm) and to Society(r).

That being said, you're still recovering from major surgery. This should be, IMHO, your only goal and anything that detracts from that needs to be discarded. If this blog causes you pain or mixed emotions, you should unplug and come back when you have the spoons for it. We aren't that important and we'll be here when you come back.

I realized this may not have answered the questions you asked, but my answer to all would be something like: whatever you feel like doing is fine by me. We love you to much to leave ;-)

kbeth said...

Oh, and I also want to say that, though I think an ASOIAF deconstruction would probably end up attracting a lot of drive-by asshats and would thus be counterproductive, if there were a way to keep that from happening, I for one would prefer the deconstruction to the sporadic mentions you've had of it now. Since so many of us often speak from our knowledge of the books, our conversations would be much more productive if you could speak from a similar knowledge, so we're all discussing the same words; having a recurring discussion would help keep the conversations focused, as opposed to talking about the entire series every time; and I think both these things would help with the hurt feelings on both sides -- no one here would feel like they were being attacked for what other people think, because you'd be quoting the passages right to us, and thus you hopefully wouldn't feel like people were ignoring how careful you are to make this a safe space (which I certainly appreciate!). On the other hand, if you feel this hasn't worked with the Narnia deconstructions, then it's probably also unlikely to work with ASOIAF. :/ And of course, if you decide never to mention ASOIAF ever again, that's your right and prerogative no matter what -- you certainly don't owe us anything, especially if you feel those discussions wouldn't be safe -- and I will happily keep reading regardless.

Divya Jagadeesan said...

Hi Ana , Lurker here. As many of the commentators here have asked, please take care of yourself. I am a devoted reader of your blog and though I may disagree with many of your opinions I always enjoy your posts. Please do continue to express your thoughts. You cannot please everyone at all times. Most of your dedicated readers know your intentions and take things in the right spirit.

graylor said...

You wouldn't grudge someone else taking a mental health day (week/month/etc) for work, would you? So why be kinder to others than you are to yourself? Also, trying to please everyone is impossible: some people will just have to deal with Someone Being 'Wrong' on the Internet. (Lemme tell you about the anti-mpreg-mpreg fic I wrote, oy.)

As someone who spends way too much time on the internet, if I check a blog I normally read and find they haven't put up any new content, I'll just check back again the next day or next week. I don't think the bulk of us are going anywhere even if you don't regularly feed us our Twilight scraps. ;-p

I don't get into the Narnia posts because there are reasons I didn't major in literature. And I didn't read the Claymore posts because I had never seen it/never heard of it. I don't know if I could take ASOIAF for similar reasons--never read it, never, ever, want to having heard what I have about it.

That said, I really like your posts on privilege and social justice, even if I don't contribute much if anything to the discussions. And, of course, Twilight sucked me in to begin with. So, I wish you a restful internet vacation, speedy recovery, and great luck picking out the least annoying e-books there are.

redcrow said...

Sorry that I wasn't here for you yesterday. Blame Korra.
Basically, what everyone else said. Put yourself first. Maybe take a break for a while, until you're in a relatively better place physically and mentally. Good luck and take care.

Laiima said...

Now that I've read everyone else's comments, I realize I could've said a lot more.

Your posts on privilege and your disabilities and feminism and all that other non-decon stuff are absolutely amazing, and I would share them with everyone I know (if only the people I know would take reading recommendations from me).

My own blog pretty much only ever talks about me and the things I think about - not pop culture, not privilege, not politics, whatever. A community has not formed around me and my writing. Which is probably for the best, as I don't have the spoons to do all the awesome stuff you do here.

Please do whatever feels most pleasant and enjoyable and *sustainable* to you.

But please also recognize that your writing here has changed people's lives. Yeah, everyone on the planet doesn't think you're a Rock Star, but that's because you're not a Mary Sue, you're a real person. And you are a pretty wonderful person at that.


Asha said...

Take care of yourself, please. You're an awesome person and I hope you continue blogging when you feel better. Personally, I've loved your Narnia deconstructions. You have very insightful things to say. But, wait and do this when you've got the energy/spoons/heart for it. On a practical level, the writing will deteriorate if you do things when you haven't the energy, and on the personal- burn out is bad! Don't do it! Go rest! *flaps hands at you and sends you internet soup and cookies* Heal. Life continues. This too shall pass.

Ice said...

Another voice of agreement here, Ana. I generally lurk bc I feel like whatever I have to say has already been said by other more eloquent Ramblites, but I check your blog faithfully for updates, bc everything you have to say serves to educate me. Your posts are insightful, and educational, and thought-provoking. This might sound cheesy, but your blog is what inspires me to keep up with my own blog as much as I do.

That being said, this is your party, we are just lucky enough to be invited. You don't need our permission to change it from a slumber party to a dinner party where everyone leaves before dessert. The Ramblites (and all of us lurkers) will stick around. I'm sure it will take more than just a change in your posting schedule to get rid of all of us!

DarcyPennell said...

I'm a lurker who's been reading your blog regularly for about a year but have only commented a few times. I typically don't comment because my schedule usually prevents me from reading your posts until the comment threads have trailed off. Like, for instance, today! I read the follow-up and it seems like you have a good plan to move forward. So I don't know if my comment now serves any purpose, but I feel compelled to add that I really enjoy your blog (I read the entire Twilight series because of you!) and I would love a deconstruction of any other series you want to write about (especially Lord of the Rings!). But most of all I want you to take care of yourself & I'm glad you're doing that. However much you want/need to slow down or take breaks from the blog, this lurker heartily approves.

Also, I think staying away from Song of Fire and Ice is a good call. I personally would love to read it -- I both love the series and am aware of how problematic it is in many ways, so I'd really enjoy a deconstruction -- but those books bring out the "how dare you gore my sacred cow" rage like nobody's business, and it sounds like you really want to avoid that kind of angry response. I don't know why people get so defensive about a book!

vegacoyote said...

Oh! Lurker here, just wanted to say, I have enjoyed all of your deconstructions tremendously and would really miss them if they were gone. But I don't want to put pressure on you if you're getting exhausted! I appreciate what you've been doing, as it seems like it would be a lot of work even without dealing with chronic pain, surgery, illness in the family, and holding a job at the same time. You should have fun too, and it's no good if this becomes more of a burden for you than it is fun.

I just wanted to let you know that you're not only turning people off the books you're reviewing, and in my case, you're actually helping me to appreciate them more. I'm actually experiencing a lot of Narnia for the first time because of you! I was kind of an unforgiving little snot when I was twelve and dropped Narnia like a hot potato after finishing the first book, not because of any of the actual problems you've been talking about, but because it was going on about Adam and Eve like they were for-real, and I didn't have the mental tools to separate Narnia from the people who still thought the Scopes Monkey Trial came out wrong, or that "- Not Adam And Steve" constitutes a strong argument in favor of standing on the front steps of a courthouse screaming at people for loving who they love.

Anyway, because of me responding to intolerant assholes by mirroring them, I missed out on Narnia, which I didn't mind too much because there was plenty of Pratchett and Gaiman to make up for it, but hearing you talk about it with a side of deconstruction and self-aware reflection kind of acts like the spoon-full of sugar to my hyper-critical brain, and helps me to understand what a generation of my favorite authors grew up loving. So thank you for doing what you do! And please, don't burn yourself out! You are appreciated, and so is your effort, and so is your right to take however long a break you need in order to keep your brain from breaking. *hugs!* Take care of yourself Ana. :)

Aidan Bird said...

I love everything you say. All your deconstructions are amazing, and I just love all the wonderful insight you have concerning society and the medium that expresses (or critiques) it (regardless of whether it is literature, film, TV series).

I appreciate everything you do. Please don't burn yourself out. Take care of yourself. I don't know if this comment helps you, but I wanted you to know that I support you, all you do, and I love this blog and all the wonderful insightful thoughts you share.

Mmarple26 said...

Your health comes first, always. I'm actually surprised you haven't taken a break already - you've been through some serious things recently. You don't need our (the readers) permission for anything! Take care of yourself - if this is making you stressed and unhappy its okay to take a step back and leave it be for however long you need. Be a little selfish, ignore the internet idiots because there are plenty of them and take a break for yourself. We'll still be here when you're ready, after all we're all here because we love your blog.

Bificommander said...

I'm sorry to hear about this Ana. I'm afraid I don't have a clear answer for you. I enjoy reading this blog. I don't often comment, and I read the Twilight and Narnia stuff most, the other things mostly if they are something that interests me. I do occasionally think some of your critiques, wether that's on a book/movie/whatever or on a societal trend that it's based on, are a bit of a stretch, but I generally don't comment on that. Or if I bring it up, I try to just weigh in with my 2 cents. I haven't ever been really angred by anything you posted, and I hope I never gave such an impression in my comments.

I for one would like to see this blog continue, but then I don't think the problem you were having was with my casual reading and occasional comment (with perhaps a slip-up here and there, such as my poor word choice during the Twilight post about Mike taking Bella to the nurse). And if reading some of the responses to your posts brings you great discomfort, I can't blame you for wanting to stop. Sadly, I can't think of a good way that lets you have all the fun of posting and discussing with friends without any of the downsides of angry commenters. All I can say is I hope your blog continues, but I fully understand if it doesn't, especially with all the other stuff you're dealing with when you're not behind the computer.

woodsiegirl said...

Hi Ana. I'm a bit late to the party here but thought I'd throw in my two penn'orth as a long-time lurker but first time (I think?) commenter.

First of all, I adore your writing. I love the Twilight posts - I gave up halfway through the first book in disgust, but not being as articulate as you couldn't really explain why it bothered me so much. I'm absolutely loving watching you pull the book apart - I can't count the number of times I've exclaimed (mostly in my head but occasionally out loud) "Yes! That's it exactly!" on reading your critique. I'm also really enjoying the Narnia posts - I do have fond memories of those books, but as I haven't picked them up since I was about 9 years old and not quite as socially aware, I appreciate being encouraged to think about the problematic elements that must have sailed over my head when I read them as a child. I have never felt at all judged or criticised for having enjoyed those books while reading your posts - you make it abundantly clear that this is not your aim. I have to say, if people are determined to take offence at something you've written then I rather think that is their problem, not yours. You bend over backwards to make everything as friendly and non-judgemental as possible, so if people still interpret that as you being deliberately mean about something they love, then there is nothing more you can do about it.

I really hope you give yourself a break. You're going through an enormous amount at the moment, and you have got to put yourself first. I'm astonished that you've managed to keep up such a punishing posting schedule while dealing with everything else - I take my hat off to you, but I also worry that you're just burning yourself out. While I have no experience of living with chronic illness and/or post-surgery pain (and can I just say how enlightening I've found your posts on these topics), I did lose my Mum to cancer last year. I tried to keep up the momentum of everything I'd been doing work-wise and otherwise, but ended up making myself quite ill. So, I took a step back, stopped pretty much everything non-essential, and just spent time looking after myself and being with my family. And I was glad I had: just over a month ago, my eldest sister died suddenly. If I'd kept pushing myself to do everything that everyone else expected of me, I wouldn't have had half the time I did have with my sister before losing her so unexpectedly.

Not trying to dump a scare-story on you, or drum up pity for myself, just trying to make the point that you do not owe any of us anything. Your only responsibility is to look after yourself and the people you love. If you enjoy posting here and want to keep doing it, then great - do so at a pace and within boundaries that work for you. If it's all too much for you at the moment, then take a break from it. Stop posting altogether, turn off the comments - do whatever you need to do for your own health and happiness. The real solution for you might be within those two extremes of course - just do whatever works for you and causes you the least pain.

I hope I haven't come off as patronising in any of the above. I'm gobsmacked by how much you are managing to do while dealing with such difficult circumstances. All the best to you, and I hope things start to get a bit brighter for you soon.

Ken said...

I don't think you should care about commenters as much as you do. This is Your blog, and the most important thing here are Your posts. So I would like you to continue your deconstructions.
You also shouldn't care that much about "hurting commenters". There is a story about a magician who discovered an incantation that could do anything - provided nobody got hurt . As you may imagine he coudn't think out anything satisfying this. It would be better for readers if you would continue deconstructions with a clamped down comments - including stopping them for controversial posts - than if you would stop your posts and thus take away both your posts and comments, since one can't comment on nonexisting post.

Mathbard said...

Lurker here. I enjoy all the deconstruction posts, and would be very sad if you stop them. However, I would be more sad if you burned yourself out and stopped blogging altogether.

Theo said...

Not much to add here, except that I very much enjoy your Narnia deconstruction posts even though I'm not always agreeing with everything in them. They're really filling a void - at least I haven't found much other serious (neutral to hostile) critical discussion of the books online. I'm truly hoping to see them through to the end. :)

Still, you gotta take care of yourself first and foremost.

Gospodin Dangling-Participle said...

We still commenting? I'm a lurker who never reads comments. I love the Narnia deconstructions; I don't read the others, as I haven't read the source material. Do please keep up with whatever schedule you find appropriate.

Ana Mardoll said...

I want to once again thank everyone for everything said in this thread. I have saved off every comment so far (and continuing) in a folder called "Affirmations" and I will read and re-read everything said here the next time I feel down or depressed. I could not place a price on this thread or the feelings of joy it has given me; each comment here is invaluable.

I also want to thank KC for making me laugh by saying Also, you are the Cheerful Happy Bunniest person I have ever ever read. I'm not sure it's possible to be less judgey while still holding an opinion. I very much doubt that everyone holds that opinion of me, and I'm certain my family would disagree, ha, but thank you so very much.

Thank you all. {hugs}

J. Random Scribbler said...

OK, I know this is late but here goes anyway.

I'm an infrequent commenter, largely because I agonize over every word choice and how people might react, so it takes a while. It sounds like you've got similar tendencies, though I can only imagine how much harder it would be to actually run a blog. Especially about sensitive topics, let alone trying to do it on a schedule.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and what you're doing here, and I would be sad if this community went away. Even sadder if you stopped posting. I've learned a lot here. I've occasionally embarrassed myself, too, mostly in Narnia conversations because those books bring up some deep stuff for me. And I learn from that as well.

Please do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. I would much rather see you take a vacation than run yourself into the ground. Re Twilight, I'm fine with a faster or slower pace; whatever lets you write at the level you want.

Re moderation, I strongly believe that you're not obligated to respond to everyone who takes offense, and that you're entitled to ban anyone from your blog for any reason whatever. Some people are going to take offense no matter what subject you choose or how carefully you write.

I don't have any specific suggestion on how to keep the conversation free of unwarned triggers. It's a big job, though.

Trying to sum up: I like the current range of topics and the pace of posting. I hope you keep as close to your current activity level as you can sustain for the long term-- but it's the sustainability part I care about more than the activity.

I'm often amazed at the creativity and insight in the comments, and hope that you won't have to withdraw from them or shut them down completely. Ultimately, though, I'd rather live with no comments than no posts and no comments. Please do whatever you need to do.

Maggs said...

I'll come back and post a more thorough affirmation later, but just for now:
I love reading your blog, and would gladly follow these Twilight discussions into 2015. I check back here several times a day to read comments, even if this here is my very first comment.

fizzchick said...

Delurking to say that a) I love the deconstructions. Very thought-provoking and fun, with some really nice discussions in the comments.
b) If you feel Twilight is lagging, by all means speed up... but I say this as a non-Twilight reader.
c) I don't know that TLOTR would be the best bet, if you're searching for another series. If you haven't seen it yet, the Tor reread here was pretty good, but it took over two years and only hit some of the fail highlights. I'd actually be interested in seeing your analysis of something smaller scale. Maybe Tamora Pierce? Anne McCaffery? Or, as suggested above, N.K. Jemisin?
d) and most importantly, don't feel obligated to do posts on a schedule that you don't have the spoons for.

Charles Matthew Smit said...

I love your deconstruction posts, and would love to continue to see them. I also want you to take whatever course you feel is most productive and least harmful for yourself; and if worrying about reactions to the decon posts is causing undue stress and you feel you'd be healthier stopping, I support that 100%.

I've been reading now for over a year, if commenting only rarely, an on only one occasion have I found you to say something I found objectionable (as opposed to merely something I disagree with) which was not immediately edited, corrected, or clarified in comments. Speaking as a chronic sufferer of foot-in-mouth, that's an incredible ratio. You're a very conscientious person, and I don't think that outraged reactions are necessarily a reason to stop. But then, that's me. Other readers perceptions and reactions may vary, as may yours, obviously.

Do what is best for you. I'll still be reading (and sometimes, even commenting!)

Jam Blair said...

I realise that you posted this several months ago and that I'm very late to the party indeed, but I was sincerely enjoying your Narnia deconstruction posts and have been reading them nonstop over the past few days till I'd read them all and wanted more. I grew up loving them as a child as well and counted the American movie as one of my favourites. I have friends who worship the series as being the perfection of children's literature. But I think your deconstructions are really well done and I'm fascinated by them and feel like I need to learn more about what you think because it's a perspective I've never heard before and it's a really smart one and makes me smarter to read it. Or something. I hope I'm making sense.

But your spoons are more important than everything else so of course do everything in your own time at your own pace. but I'd hate to see you scrap the Narnia deconstructions entirely. They're what brought me here to begin with.

Isator Levi said...

I've only just read this post, and I can't really look through all of these comments, but...

I like A Song of Ice and Fire. Thus, I find it to be very important for somebody with a (probably less biased perspective) to point out the more problematic qualities of its narrative and character beats. Having that pointed out to me is actually more important than it being done in Twilight, because it goes back into that whole area of "needing to understand the problematic implications of what one would otherwise be thoughtlessly comfortable with".

So I would want more posts like that to continue. I feel that they're necessary for me being a more thoughtful, critical individual.

Which isn't to stay that I'll stop liking the book and show, mind, just that I'll look at them with a more critical eye in the future (which will be integral for supporting works in the future that retain what I liked while eventually excising what I shouldn't).

Indeed, that conversation regarding Tyrion Lannister's comments on slavery (in the context of a lot of stuff I've read and written about imperialism and slavery) gave me a lot to think about, and an ultimate conclusion that regardless of the context's of the character, it was still a wrong headed statement, and it's on me to keep a weather eye out for how the narrative supports or undermines it in future publications.

So yes, please keep it up.

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